If you are planning to travel in Germany, you will probably want to sample the national and/or regional cuisine. There is as full array of options, from the local Imbiss which serves snacks, often on a carry-out basis, to local and family restaurants, which serve regional and traditional cuisine, to the more modern formal dining establishments which serve the rough German equivalent of nouvelle cuisine. This blog will focus on the latter.
There are a few words and phrases which you will need to use to ensure that you get what you want when you order, and that you can interact with the wait staff in a way that is appropriate in German culture, and so you can understand the order in which the meal is presented, as well as pricing and tipping. These details are easy to master. Below is a short outline of a sample conversation concerning dining. To view a typical German restaurant menu, click here.
Making a Reservation
You will want to phone or visit the restaurant and talk with the maître de to make a reservation.
You will need to say:
“Guten Tag! Wir möchten, bitte, einen Tisch reservieren” (We would like to reserve a table, please)
He will likely respond with:
“Gerne. Für wie viele Personen?” (Very well. For how many people?)
He will also ask:
“Für wann möchten Sie reservieren?” (For when is the reservation?)
To which you would respond by stating a date and time:
“Für Freitag den 11.11 um 18:00.” (For Friday at 6:00 p.m.)
He would also ask:
“Unter welchem Namen?” (In whose name?)
To this you should respond to providing your last name:
He would then thank you by saying:
“Bitte schön. Bis dann!” (Very well, see you then.)
Arriving at the Restaurant
When you arrive at the restaurant, you will want to state that you have a reservation:
“Guten Abend! Wir haben eine Reservierung für vier Personen. (Good evening! We have a reservation for four persons)’
He will ask:
“Unter welchem Namen?” (in whose name?)
Provide your name:
He would then say:
"Bitte schön. Nehmen Sie hier vorne Platz.” (Please, take a seat here in the front)
To this you would reply:
Placing Your Order
[A note on the presentation of the meal: A German consists of a Vorspeise (appetizers), Hauptgericht, (main course), Salat (salad), Nachtisch (dessert) and Getränke (drinks, alcoholic or non-alcoholic)]
Once you have been seated and are ready to order, you waiter will bring you the menu (Speisekarte, dining card)
He may ask:
“Was wird es denn sein? (What will it then be?”)
or “Was möchten Sie, bitte?” (What would you like, please?”)
You might want to ask for suggestions:
Was würden Sie uns empfehlen? (What would you recommend for us?)
He might reply:
“Als Vorspeise empfehle ich die kalte Schinkenplatte” (I would recommend the cold ham plate)
And you might also ask:
“Als Hauptgericht? (For the main course?)
He might respond:
“Schweineschnitzel “Jaeger Art” “ (pork cutlet in the style of the hunter)
or “Gebackenes Hähnchen ” (baked chicken).
He will also ask about your drink preferences:
“Und zu trinken?” (And what would you like to drink?)
The menu will show multiple drink options, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, including after dinner drinks.
You might respond that you would like:
“Zwei Flaschen Mineralwasser, bitte, und zwei Gläser Rotwein.” (Two bottles of mineral water and two glasses of red wine.)
He may also ask:
“Möchten Sie auch einen Salat?“ (would you also like a salad)
To which you can respond with either:
“Ja, bitte” or “Nein, danke”
Finally, you may want to select a dessert:
He will ask:
“Und zum Nachtisch, bitte?” (And for dessert?”)
To which you might respond:
“Ein gemischtes Eis mit Sahne, bitte” (mixed ice cream with whipped cream)
Paying the Check
You will likely be asked to pay the waiter directly. A tip is included (“mit einbegriffen”).
You will want to indicate that you are ready to pay:
“Wir möchten bitte bezahlen” (We would like to pay, please.)
To this he will likely respond with:
“Ja, bitte, sofort!” (Yes, please, right away!)
Thanking the Waiter and Complimenting the Chef
It is also important to thank your waiter and compliment the chef.
You might say:
Danke schön! Es hat alles ganz gut geschmeckt! (Thank you very much! Everything tasted really good!)
To this he is likely to reply:
Bitte schön! (You are welcome!)
Some Useful Vocabulary
Ich möchte… I want...
ich hätte gern…. I would like...
Elements of the Meal
die Vorspeise – appetizer
das Hauptgericht - main course
der Salat - salad
der Nachtisch - dessert
die Getränke – drinks
Suggested Practice Exercises
- Check the phone number of the restaurant at which you wish to dine, then call them and request a reservation. Be prepared to provide a date and time for your planned dinner, as well as to state the number of persons who will be attending.
- Once you have arrived at the restaurant and have been seated, tell the waiter when you are ready to order. Then select from the various menu items (see, for example, the Ratsklause menu (link above) and place your order. Remember to request drinks and dessert (as desired)
- When you are finished, inform your waiter that you would like the check and are ready to pay.
- Compliment the chef (if you did indeed enjoy the food) and thank the waiter.
Do you want to practice this scenario with a live German teacher? Visit our shop!